One of the most difficult symptoms of betrayal P.T.S.D. and trauma are the triggers. Triggers can be physical or mental and can wreck havoc on your health. For a long time I had difficulty explaining what it was like having triggers day-in and day-out. Below is the best way I could describe it.
You can start by imagining yourself as a small lake, the beautiful sandy shores are the barrier you built to protect yourself. You have existed for a long time with nothing disturbing your waters and the shores, but the occasional wind and rain (kids, family, work, etc.) until the unexpected happened. A rare category 4 hurricane named Betrayal barreled through your waters and damaged your shoreline. Not only did Hurricane Betrayal spend a good amount of time breaking down your shores, it also broke down a rocky ledge 1000 ft above you. Within a day this ledge starts to crumble. The very first piece to fall from the ledge is a boulder the size of a Semi-Truck. This boulder disturbs your peace and safety over a period of a few days reminding you of the hurricane. The next boulder that falls into your water is the size of a pick-up truck. This boulder disturbs you for a day. The next boulder is the size of a compact car, you are disturbed a little less than the previous boulders but dislike how it reminds you of Hurricane Betrayal. You have these boulders sporadically crashing down for a few months. They vary in size. Every day you are unsure what type of rock is going to be falling into your water and what memories it will stir up. It could be any size at any given moment. This makes you worried, edgy, panicked, and nervous every minute of every single day. Every single pebble that comes down from that ledge reminds you of Hurricane Betrayal.
After 6 months of large boulders, rocks and pebbles disturbing your waters, you no longer identify as a lake, you are unsure what you are. You become highly sensitive to anything that touches your water or shoreline. The wind and rain (children, family, friends, finances, work) pick away at your shores little by little even if just a minuscule amount. Everything that touches your water leaves its mark on you. You are in constant fear of no longer being a lake, of a boulder completely crashing down into your water destroying all the shoreline you have left after Betrayal hit.
Years goes by, you are exposed to the wind and rain. The ledge letting boulders, rocks and pebbles go is something you accept being there. You are still a lake, like before. You have weathered through it all. You even made it through another hurricane. Some days you would have a boulder and tiny rocks land in your water. On other days the ledge would drop pebbles all day long. Gradually over time the ledge stopped dropping the boulders and only dropped pebbles and an occasional stone. Sometimes the stones would be significant and sometimes not. There was a week where you didn’t have anything fall into your water. The ledge you kept constant eye on no longer looks like a ledge. You can barely see where it was. You will always remember what that ledge looked like right after Hurricane Betrayal hit. You will not forget the damage Betrayal and that ledge did to you, but you might appreciate what it made you become.
The betrayed often feel ashamed or like they owe an
explanation for why they either stayed or left the adulterer. The heavy
pressure can be felt from family, society, community, or a social circle. This pressure can become overwhelming and debilitating
and wreaks havoc on an already fragile situation. It is important to remember
that every marriage and relationship is different. Everyone has different values and
morals. We all grieve what our
relationship once was. We all grieve in different ways and at a different pace. The one thing that we have in common is the
deep down sick to the stomach feeling of betrayal.
I chose to stay with my husband even though lots of new
revelations are out in the open and this second D-Day has taken its toll on me.
There are over a dozen woman walking around locally that I will be confronting. We were semi famous in a small town and there
is gossip. The magnitude of the damage
is a lot larger in our small community we have lived in. I don’t owe anybody an
explanation to why I am currently staying but I am going to give an explanation
just so I feel better. Plus, being able to write it out is helpful. Another
good reason is to get it written out is my therapist cancelled our appointment
last week right after I just did the big “Sit
down and ask session.” And I have some releasing I need to do.
I have been with my husband for 22 years. We have 3 children together. Our oldest 19-yr-old son has schizophrenia
and is a Type 1 Diabetic, our 16-year-old daughter has Rheumatoid Arthritis and
our youngest 7-year-old boy is very active and the most challenging of the children
so far. My husband and I have been through hell and back with each other. Is our relationship always great? HECK NO!
Do the good times outweigh the bad times? HELL YES! 80% of our marriage has been pure love and
bliss. We are the perfect team. Is this time going to be hard to overcome?
Definitely! Is it possible I am making the wrong decision? Maybe.
But no matter what I know I will be fine in the end no matter the
With everything we have gone through we have learned a lot
about illnesses. Just like our oldest son
has schizophrenia and both our parents suffer from mental illnesses we
recognize the last 4 years of behavior is partially due to an underlying mental
illness. We are still in the process of
getting everything diagnosed but I cannot tell you how proud I am of my husband
for taking the steps needed to get better.
After this second Discovery Day he has shown more remorse than he has
ever in the past. Everyday multiple
times a day he is reassuring me that everything will be okay. He holds me for as long as I need him to for
my anxiety attack to go away. He is more
aware of what I am going through and does everything in his power to
accommodate me including telling me some ugly truths that I am sure he never
thought he would tell. So far, he is doing exactly what I have asked so that I
can feel safe staying in this marriage.
If you came to a different conclusion for your own marriage
my conclusion should not affect your reasoning at all. Sometimes it is impossible to reason why we
do what we do. If you chose, you did the
first major step which is deciding.
Whether it be stay or leave you made the decision for your own reason
and you know what? You will be okay. It doesn’t feel like it but rest assured you
will be okay.
After my first D-Day 3 1/2 years ago I was incapacitated, suicidal and hopeless. I had no choice but to reach out for professional help. Thankfully I found the perfect therapist for me that did EMDR and was very helpful in sending me home with exercises and tools that I could use between my appointments with her. A year and half with her and I was finally feeling like a person again.
For this exercise you are going to need to be in a relaxing place with no distractions. It is best to have someone lead you through this meditation but you can also read the steps below, then do the exercise. The idea is to train your brain to put a feeling to a word. A happy word to a happy feeling.
Close your eyes. Place yourself in the most beautiful, comfortable, relaxing setting you can think of. It can be anywhere in the world or out of this world. The choice is yours.
What does this place feel like? Is it warm, cool, hot, busy, slow. Get all the feels. Is your skin sweaty, cool to the touch, warm, etc. What are you wearing?
What are the sounds you hear? Are there any animals, running water, waves, cars, people, children, etc.
What type of surface is under your feet? Are you sitting, standing, laying?
Is there anyone with you? Your favorite animal, a loved one
Imagine you can stay in this place for as long as you want. Absolutely no rush to leave. You relax into your surroundings feeling no rush to leave. Time stays still in this place. You are safe from everything.
Sit in this place and take in all the scenery, feelings, scents, etc. until you can actually feel yourself there.
What is one descriptive WORD you can use to describe this place? What WORD describes how you feel in this place?
My word has always been peace. It puts me right onto Huntington Beach in California feeling the sand between my toes. One of my favorite places to visit when I was a child. The warmth of the sun, the sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls is a place of comfort for me. My husband knows to say “peace” whenever I get really worked up in an anxiety attack. Just the word alone puts me there and I can feel all the feels.
I hope you are able to find a place for you and one word that puts you there.